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UCP's Miranda Rosin wins Banff-Kananaskis race

BANFF-KANANASKIS – UCP's Miranda Rosin has officially won the Banff-Kananaskis election race.
UCP candidate Miranda Rosin has officially become the MLA for Banff-Kananaskis.

BANFF-KANANASKIS – UCP's Miranda Rosin has officially won the Banff-Kananaskis election race.

Cam Westhead, the incumbent NDP candidate, conceded defeat on April 19, after Elections Alberta released one of two remaining advanced polls overnight indicating Rosin had earned enough votes to beat her competitor.

"After a long and suspenseful five day wait, I am honoured to wake up today as your official member-elect for Banff-Kananaskis," wrote Rosin on Facebook.

"This race has been an absolute nail-biter, but the results all across Alberta could not be more exciting. I am both humbled, and proud, to be chosen by you to represent Jason Kenney's team in the Alberta legislature. This election signals a new direction for Alberta, and the beginning of a prosperous future we should all be excited about. Two years ago we united the right, but this week, we united Alberta."

She took the opportunity to thank her campaign team, volunteers and supporters for putting their trust in her and also thanked Westhead for his hard work and service.

"While a lot of work was put into our campaign by a lot of people, the real work begins now," wrote Rosin in a message to the Outlook.

"We have over 170,000 Albertans to get back to work, over $94 billion of debt to clear up and a lot of regulations to cut. I look forward to working with my fellow electees in our new United Conservative government, as we restore Alberta as the most wonderful place to live, work and raise a family."

Westhead graciously accepted his defeat earlier in the morning and congratulated his opponent.

"I want to congratulate Miranda Rosin on her victory. While this is not the outcome I'd hoped for, I respect Albertans’ choice in this election. I also want to thank the other candidates for putting their names forward and participating in democracy," wrote Westhead in a Facebook post.

"It has been an honour and a privilege serving the people of Banff-Cochrane, who are as inspiring as the landscapes that surround them. Together, we made great strides towards addressing priorities like affordability and protecting the environment." 

With all 98 polls now accounted for, the unofficial results show Rosin earned 10,815 votes or 51.2 per cent of the vote, while Westhead earned 8,889 votes or 42.1 per cent.

On election night (April 16) the vote difference between the two top candidates was 672 votes, however, there were still 2,607 votes to count from Banff-Kananaskis voters who cast their “vote anywhere” ballots outside of the riding.

By Friday evening Elections Alberta counted the remaining ballots to confirm Rosin's victory.

READ MORE ON THIS STORY: UCP's Miranda Rosin leads Banff-Kananaskis: unofficial results

In Westhead's concession statement he also took time to thank those who supported him.

"Our team worked incredibly hard and ran a great campaign, breaking all of our previous records. I want to thank all of my staff, volunteers, and supporters who believed in me and helped me get here – I am forever grateful. Like John F. Kennedy said, we choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard," wrote Westhead.

"I am very proud of Rachel Notley – both the government she provided the past four years and the campaign she ran. I was so proud to be part of her team, and I wish them the best as the Official Opposition holding Jason Kenney to account."

Stephen Legault, Westhead's campaign manager, confirmed they both reached out to their counterparts to congratulate them on their win.

In a Facebook post he said voters who supported the NDP shouldn't be shocked by the result given that the local election race was always going to be close with conservatives united under Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party.

"One of the most common sentiments I’ve heard over the last few days is of shock and mourning," wrote Legault.

"We shouldn’t be shocked. For those of us working on the campaign for the last six months, there is no surprise. We knew what we were up against. We weren’t running against Miranda or even Jason Kenney, but against a fearful longing to look back over our shoulders at the promising past where high-paying jobs in the oil and gas sector, coupled with the conviction that Alberta was an unfailingly conservative province was the dominant paradigm.

"The NDP ran against a party that promised to recreate our past when everything was good, and normal and prosperous, if not willfully blind to the global forces that are changing by the minute."

He said several thousand more people supported Westhead in 2019 than they did in 2015 when he was able to split the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative vote.

He said another major factor that played a role in Westhead's loss was the changes to the riding.

Under the new Banff-Kananaskis riding, Cochrane was no longer included, however, polls in Priddis, Millerville and Springbank areas changed the electoral math dramatically.

"We lost eight polls that voted NDP in 2015 and only picked up one marginal NDP poll from the Rockyview-Chestermere riding," wrote Legault.

He warned voters that under a UCP government there will be "real-world consequences" and remained defiant that NDP supporters will need to get back to work immediately if they want to stop the UCP in four-years time.

"The likelihood of the magnificent Bighorn Wildland being protected now, as many of us have fought for for years, decades, is almost nil. Progress in protecting headwaters along the eastern slope – which raced ahead light-years under the NDP – will be sacrificed for more OHV access, forestry operations, and coal mining. Protection of the Castle region is on very shaky ground. The Climate Leadership Plan, with its cap on oil sands emissions, is going to be gutted first, and with it the carbon tax that has made possible an investment of billions into climate mitigation, transit, research and Energy Efficiently Alberta," wrote Legault.

"This is to say nothing of protection of students through GSAs, health care investments, new schools and staffing, child care and a hundred other things the NDP ushered in in four short years.

"If you’re thinking to yourself, how did this happen? right now, think hard. And then get ready to get to work. This isn’t a spectator sport, and we don’t have the luxury of hiding behind non-partisan excuses anymore. Alberta is about to be jolted backward, and you and I must be the force that rights this transgression in four-years time. That starts today."

UCP's Rosin sits with 5.3 per cent of Banff-Kananaskis vote
Advance polls show 2,607 vote anywhere ballots cast for Banff-Kananaskis
Meet the candidates for Banff-Kananaskis

Paul Clarke

About the Author: Paul Clarke

Paul Clarke has spent the past four years working as a community news reporter in Jasper, Banff and Canmore.
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